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Hamilton Laurie Stone

Hamilton L Stone
Hamilton L Stone

Hamilton Laurie Stone was born May 3, 1902, the only child of Louis H Stone and Ethel L Stone. Louis Stone worked the publishing business, first for Charles Scribner's Sons and later Houghton- Mifflin Book Publishing Company. His mother was related to Yonkers City Alderman, E. P. Baker.

According to New York Census Records from 1905 and 1915, living right next door, was his aunt and uncle Leslie and Jesse Dickson and their daughter Jessamine, Hamiltons' cousin. They remained close all their lives. Probably being the brother and sister neither had. By the 1920 census head of household, Leslie, is no longer in the picture. Perhaps he died, maybe a divorce. There is no mention for his absence.

Hamilton was a popular child and young man. He was active in the Yonkers Yacht Club and even as a teen held several offices for the membership.

He graduated from Yonkers High School and, it seemed, the school even had fraternities. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Pi. He graduated in January of 1921 from school.

He was a successfully competitor in the examinations for entrance to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. He acquired his appointment from Benjamin L. Fairchild, Congressman, from the 24th District, he entered the Academy on June 24, 1921.

At the Academy he picked up the nicknames 'Yonk' and 'Ham'. 'Yonk' because of his fierce promotion of his home town, Yonkers, New York. 'Ham' because of his first name. Seems he was a good sprinter and a ladies man and respected by classmates. He also was a Mandolin player.

In September 1921 he had a 30 day leave of absence from the Academy which he spent at his parents house.

While at the Academy one of the big events were the football games. The Yonkers newspaper reported in its 'Personals' column that Hamilton's mother and father, his aunt Edith Clark and fiancée, Dorothy Ward, all traveled to Baltimore to join cadet Hamilton Stone for the annual Army-Navy game.

The game, played on November 28, 1924 resulted in a 12 to 0 win for Army over Navy at Baltimore's Municipal Stadium. The year before Army and Navy had tied at 0 to 0. All four years Hamilton was at the Academy Army won or tied these games.

Upon graduation Hamilton was given his first ship assignment, the newly commissioned cruiser USS Cincinnati CL-6, built in Seattle, Washington in 1924. The Cincinnati was sailing the Atlantic and Caribbean in fleet operations until early in 1927 when she was transferred to the Pacific and Asiatic Station.

It was some time after graduation in June 1925 and after being attached to the Cincinnati, Ensign Hamilton L Stone wed Miss Dorothy Drake Ward at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ossining, New York. They had known each other for a number of years. She was 4 years older than Hamilton.

After the transfer of the Cincinnati to the Orient, she and the destroyer USS Preble DD 345 were on the Yangtze River near Nanking on or about April 18, 1927. Aboard the ship with Hamilton was another Yonkers native and Academy classmate Ensign Nathaniel S. Prime. Both these young Yonkerites were to have their Naval baptism under fire that day.

The two ships came under fire from two different Chinese fortified positions on opposite sides and locations of the river. Small bore cannon and machine-gun fire ensued from the Northern Chinese position directed at the destroyer. The Preble opened up on the north fort with her 4" guns and her own machine-guns bringing the bombardment to an end. This resulted in one crewman being slightly wounded in a leg. There were no other casualties.

The Cincinnati, a bit further down river, below Nanking, took Chinese fire from another faction of militant Chinese on the South bank of the river while proceeding to the city of Hankow. She returned the fire with her 6 inch guns loaded with shrapnel. The shore batteries ceased firing.

The Cincinnati and Ensign Stone stayed around the Shanghai area until October 1927 and then sailed for Manila. She again was at Shanghai from February to April 1928 when she was ordered to proceed home. On the long cruise home to the east coast, she joined in exercises off Oahu, Hawaii and carried men from Honolulu to Corinto, Nicaragua, finally returning to Newport, R.I. on July 25, 1928. Hamilton L Stone was back home, now a seasoned, fighting sailor.

In the October 31, 1928 issue of the Yonkers Statesman newspaper it was reported: 'Lieutenant (jg) and Mrs. Hamilton L. Stone of 311 Warburton Avenue (Yonkers) motored to Philadelphia last Friday to attend the Navy – Pennsylvania football game and the Navy Ball held at the Hotel Bellevue-Stratford on Saturday evening. Lieutenant Stone recently returned from China, after having been stationed during the past 18 months in foreign waters.' He was enjoying being home and once more having an active social life. Navy won the football game 6 to 0 probably making the Navy Ball a much happier one.

The dates are uncertain but some time around the end of 1928 or in early 1929 Hamilton volunteered for submarine duty and was assigned to the Officers Submarine School in New London/Groton Connecticut.

Despite the study load imposed at the Sub Base he and Dorothy still managed to have social and recreational time together. It was reported in the Social section of the March 23, 1929 Yonkers papers that 'Lieutenant and Mrs. Hamilton L. Stone and Lieutenant Arthur Graubart returned to New London, Conn., today after spending the weekend at the home of Mr. and Mrs. L. H. Stone of 311 Warburton Avenue.'

In April 1929 he and his wife Dorothy were visited by his favorite cousin, Jessamine Dickson.

On June 5 of that year he and sub school classmate, Lieutenant (jg) J. A. Holbrook were reported as 'motoring across the continent to San Francisco' after graduation from submarine school. They were to take transport from San Francisco to Hawaii for duty aboard submarines stationed at Pearl Harbor. Dorothy was to join Hamilton at a later date once he had gotten settled. She was still living with his parents in Yonkers and had traveled to New London to see him graduate.

Once Dorothy had joined Hamilton in Honolulu they settled down into a house on Kealaulu Avenue. The neighborhood was much different than that of his Yonkers home, there being many Hawaiian and Oriental families around them. He had been assigned to the submarine USS R-13 at Pearl Harbor. The R-13 had been commissioned in 1919 and had been at Pearl Harbor for 10 years and was getting a bit 'long in the tooth'. Submarine advancement had come a long way and the Navy was at this time building its 'V' classes of submarine and exploring the use of welding to make hulls.

Hamilton remained aboard the R-13 performing engineering duties. He had all the machinery and the men that worked on it under his leadership aboard the boat. In December 1930 she departed Hawaii for the east coast of the United States and arriving at New London in February 1931 to become a sub school training vessel. The R-Class submarine had been displaced by the larger and newer 'S' – Class and up and coming 'V' Classes with longer legs to travel the greater distances the Pacific demanded.

The Citizen -Sentinel, OSSINING, N. Y. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1931 reports;

'Lieutenant Hamilton L Stone and Mrs, Stone, the former Miss Dorothy Ward of Ossining, spent the week end at the home of the lieutenant's parents. Mr. and Mrs. L. H. Stone of Warburton Avenue, Yonkers. 'Lieutenant Stone has Just arrived in the United States, following a 7,300-mile trip from Honolulu, T. H. aboard the submarine R-13 with which he is connected as engineer officer. 'He and Mrs. Stone will soon take up their residence In New London, Conn., where he will be connected with the staff of the submarine base.'

In 1932 the couple are living in Eastport, Maryland, on the south side of Annapolis and the Naval Academy. He had been transferred from the R-13. There is no mention of what he is doing but he might be at the Academy taking classes or even instructing. At this time the couple are visited, again, by Hamiltons' favorite cousin Jessamine Dickson and the trio attended the Navy-Ohio University football game played at Annapolis. Navy lost to Ohio 14 to 0.

On July 10, 1933 the couple had a happy event with the birth of their daughter Marilyn. The couple are now noted as living in Annapolis.

In 1934, after a visit with his parents the family, now with baby daughter Marilyn, moved back to New London and submarine duty. It could be that at this point that Hamilton was assigned to the USS R-10 which was involved in working as a training boat for the submarine school.

On Christmas Eve 1935 the newspapers reported that Hamilton L Stone has assumed command of the submarine USS R-2 at the submarine base at New London, Conn. The R-2 was attached to Submarine Division 4 and, besides sub school training, participated in training for the Yale University NROTC Program. He was to remain as CO until 1939.

In 1939 Hamilton was again transferred. This time back to Hawaii. He was to assume the post as Executive Office on the giant V-Class submarine Narwhal (ex-V-5). She was one of the largest submarines in the world at that time mounting two 6 inch/53 caliber deck guns and torpedo tubes fore and aft. This class of submarine had several decks inside for the crew to berth and work in.

April 1940 the favorite cousins, Hamilton Stone and Jessamine Dickson, spent a month together when she visited the family in Honolulu. Hamilton gave a large party for fellow officers at his home and Jessamine attended and had a wonderful time. Dorothy entertained her at the Oahu Country Club and then again at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

A month later, on May 30, 1940, Hamilton assumed command of the Salmon Class submarine, USS Snapper (SS-185). Except for a brief voyage to San Diego in October and November 1940, Snapper remained in the Hawaiian area participating in training exercises and fleet tactics until May 3, 1941, when she departed for overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard. Upon completion, she became a unit of SubRon 2 based at San Diego.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Snapper was operating in the Philippine Islands area. War had come to Hamilton Stone.

On December 19, 1941 Snapper departed Manila for her first war patrol, covering the shipping lanes between Hong Kong and Hainan Strait until January 8, 1942, when she set sail for Davao Gulf in the Philippines. On the 12th, she made an unsuccessful attack on a Japanese supply ship which escaped when Snapper was forced down by an escorting destroyer.

While off Cape San Agustin on January 24, 1942 Hamilton attacked another supply ship without success, again he was being forced deep by destroyer escorts. On February 1, as the submarine approached Bangka Strait, she was detected by an enemy destroyer which made a fruitless depth charge attack. In return, Snapper fired two torpedoes but both failed to find the target. Snapper arrived at Soerabaja, Java, on February 10 and then continued on to Fremantle, Western Australia.

Hamilton and Snapper departed Fremantle on March 6 for the approaches to Tarakan, Indonesia, and her second war patrol. Finding no suitable targets there, she was directed to Davao Gulf where, on March 31 she closed a large armed tender or auxiliary cruiser. Hamilton fired two bow torpedoes at 600 yards and, after reversing course, came to periscope depth to observe the enemy ship dead in the water. After firing one torpedo from her stern tube, she was forced deep to evade an attacking escort ship.

Later that night Hamilton received new orders, she was ordered to Mactan Island to unload ammunition and take on board 46 tons of food for the besieged island of Corregidor. Arriving there on April 4 she transferred her cargo to the submarine rescue vessel Pigeon ASR-6, took on board 27 evacuees, and headed back to Fremantle, evading Japanese destroyer patrols on the way.

On April 23, 1942 Snapper received word that Searaven SS-196 was in trouble. Hamilton reversed the submarines course to go to her aid. After towing the stricken submarine to Fremantle, she sailed for Albany and then returned to Fremantle.

On 28 May 1942 Hamilton was relieved of command and transferred, as the Executive Officer, for the Submarine Repair Unit at Point Loma, San Diego reporting for duty on 5 Oct 1942. He was to work for LCdr J. H. Schroder the Commanding Officer of the facility. During all this time he was away Dorothy had returned to Hamiltons parents home.

In 1931, then Captain Chester W. Nimitz – later Fleet Admiral Nimitz – assumed command of the base. It was in terrible condition. Nimitz changed this and the facility improved and the Navy placed a Destroyer Base there and added some more land to it. By the time WW II had come along the facility assumed new proportions and had added expanded fleet training schools, and an amphibious force training unit. By the following year, it was determined the scope of operations exceeded the base’s basic function as a Destroyer Base.

The base was re-designated the U.S. Repair Base, San Diego , a title it retained throughout World War II. Between 1943 and 1945 the newly named base performed conversions, overhauls, maintenance and battle damage repairs to more than 5,117 ships. Central to this maintenance were the Navy’s construction and delivery of 155 new floating dry docks deployed to various bases, including three 3,000-ton, three 1,000-ton and one 900-ton floating docks remaining at the San Diego Repair Base. The floating dry docks became the central repair and training facilities on the base which were crucial to the World War II mission. He and wife Dorothy and daughter Marilyn were living in a house in Coronado, Calif.

Hamilton was to be a major participant in this new expansion of the base and concentrate on working on war weary submarines. He was to remain as the Executive Officer until April 5, 1943 when he was once again transferred. This time to be the Executive Officer of the new Submarine Tender, USS Orion (AS-18). He assumed this position on September 30, 1943 working under Capt. C. S. Isgrig.

On November 8, 1943 Hamilton was promoted to Commander and was detached from Orion and sent to the USS Maryland for transportation.

From the Maryland he was transferred to the USS Mellette (APA 126) to a staff position with Transport Division Forty Four which was aboard the new USS Hinsdale (APA-120) under Captain J.H. Seyfried, but was again transferred to this time to Commander, Training Command, Amphibious Force Pacific.

Serving as operations officer on the staff of the commander of a gunfire support group from March 21 to May 1, 1945, during the amphibious assaults on Iwo Jima and then on Okinawa. These actions resulted in a 1946 awarding of a Bronze Star Medal. Commander Stone, according to the citation accompanying the award, 'demonstrated outstanding skill' and ability.

The citation states further that Commander Stone 'provided valuable assistance in the tactical employment of the group with the result that the bombardment missions were accomplished with effectiveness. 'By his sound judgment, resourcefulness and devotion to duty under continuous enemy air attacks,' the citation adds, 'he contributed materially to the success of the operations. His conduct throughout distinguished him among those performing duties of the same character.'

After the war was over, in 1946, he took command of the Japanese Cruiser Sakawa from its Japanese Captain, Ohara Toshimichi, and despite a mini mutiny by 5 US sailors who tried to cripple the ship in efforts to get off the rat infested vessel, he managed to bring the cruiser to the Bikini Atoll for the A-Bomb test to be conducted there. The vessel was destroyed by the bomb and later sank in the lagoon. The sailors were court marshaled.

On June 17, 1946 he is recorded as being on a Navy flight leaving the Kawajalien Atoll.

On January 1, 1947 he was promoted to the rank of Captain. On December 15, 1947 he is shown on a passenger list for the Army Air Forces Transport Command flying from Tokyo to Hickam Field in Hawaii.

With the close of 1947 Hamilton was retired from the Navy. The couple retired to their home in Coronado, Calif.

In 1953 his father Louis passes away. In 1970 his mother passes away.

On June 6, 1988 wife Dorothy passes away.

Captain Hamilton Laurie Stone dies on November 28, 1993 at age 91 in San Diego, California.

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